Loretta Gertrude Hellmann was the youngest of six children born on a farm near St. Rose, Ill., to Regina (Doerhoff) and Leo Hellmann.
She entered the Adorers of the Blood of Christ at Ruma, Ill., on Dec. 30, 1954; professed her first vows as Sister Gemma on July 1, 1956; and made her final profession of vows on July 1, 1961.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in education from Sacred Heart College (now Newman University) in Wichita, Kan., in 1969. She also earned a master’s degree in education, instruction and administration from Saint Louis University in 1974.
She taught elementary school from 1957 to 1986 including at St. Augustine School, Kelso, Mo.; Holy Rosary School, Fort Dodge, Iowa; and in Illinois: St. John the Baptist School, Red Bud; Holy Family School, Cahokia; St. Mary’s School, Taylorville; St. Lawrence School, Lawrenceville; St. Clare School, O’Fallon; St. Patrick School, Ruma; St. Andrew School, Murphysboro; Saints Peter and Paul School, Waterloo; Prairie du Rocher Community Consolidated School, Prairie du Rocher; and St. Ann School, Nashville.
She was principal at St. Patrick and St. Andrew and the parish organist in many places.
When various health challenges forced her to give up the elementary school classroom, she responded to new callings.
From 1986 to 1992, she taught inmates of the Centralia Correctional Center, Centralia, Ill.; veterans at Kaskaskia College, also in Centralia; and developmentally disabled adults at Clinton County (Ill.) Rehab. She moved back to Ruma, Ill., in April 1992, and served as clerical assistant to the province secretary and as seamstress for the sisters.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her sister Anna Linda and brother-in-law William Little, her sister Mary Rose Hellmann, and her brother-in-law Vincent Albers. She is survived by her brother James and sister-in-law Shirley, her sister Ruth Albers, her sister Cecilia Marie Hellmann, ASC, many nieces and nephews, friends and the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
Visitation will be from 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at the Ruma Center with a wake service at 10 a.m. and funeral liturgy at 11 a.m. She will be buried in the convent cemetery.
Memorials in her honor may be sent to the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, U.S. Region, Mission Center, 4233 Sulphur Ave., St. Louis, Mo., 63109, or made online by clicking here.